I've always been a sucker for smaller cars. The '82 Tercel, the '88 Samurai, and the Miatas were all a lot of fun. Until the supercharger in the Shark, all were small lightweight, and pretty much underpowered. Max is in the same boat. Not exactly a drag race monster, but pretty nimble, a lot of fun around town, and absurdly easy to park.
I had heard about the smart, seen pictures of it, and thought I'd want one, but wasn't sure about fitting my XXL carcass into one until there was a demo at the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix. (First 2 pics) Much like the original Mini Coopers, it's larger inside than outside. (I'm unsure of the physics involved in that, but I think they covered it in one of the Star Trek episodes.) Anyway, .I was hooked. But the grey market model 450's were in the $30k range. A cool car, but for that kind of money, there are dozens of other cars that would be fun. Fast forward a couple of years, and gas hit's $3.00/gallon, and there is talk of importing the smarts to the US via direct channels, and around a$15k sticker. I check around. Smartusa confirms that they are coming to the US in 2008. Would I like to be on the email list? Absolutely.
March 2007, the first day reservations are open, I put a refundable $99 deposit on the car. What the hell. I suspect that there will be an insane dealer markup when the car arrives. Every popular car I've ever seen has the same problem. But worst case scenario, I'm out $99. Why not? I'm in.
Jan 2008, the car I ordered arrives, as ordered. No market adjustment, no $800 pinstripes, no haggling, no problem. I have a really fun car for sticker price. For the first time in 10 years, I go to the garage and have to decide which car to take to work, and the Shark comes in second place a fair amount of the time.